According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Division of Vital Records and Statistics, there were 1,748 divorces in Knox County, Tennessee in 2019, resulting in a divorce rate of 3.7 persons per 1,000 population.
If you’re considering divorce, or already in the process of a divorce, the issue of alimony always looms large. When is it awarded, and to whom and why? Is it permanent? Can it be changed if circumstances change?
These are all great questions, and our team at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed stands ready to answer them for you. If you’re on the path to divorce in or around Knoxville or Farragut, Tennessee, contact us immediately. We serve clients all over Eastern Tennessee, including the counties of Knox, Blount, Anderson, Sevier, Loudon, and Union.
Alimony — also called spousal support — is a monetary payment from one spouse to the other to help the nonpaying spouse make a successful transfer to living separately.
In Tennessee, judges in a divorce proceeding can award four types of alimony:
As the name implies, this form of alimony is aimed at enabling the supported spouse to increase their earning capacity by attending school, getting job training, or otherwise acquiring the skills necessary to achieve financial independence. The goal is for the spouse to establish a standard of living as close as possible to the one they enjoyed while married.
Also known as periodic alimony, this can be awarded on a long-term (and sometimes permanent) basis to a spouse who — because of disability or other factors — is unable to obtain financial independence. The recipient could be a spouse who left the workforce to raise a family and is now unable to return to work.
This can be awarded to a spouse who doesn’t need new skills or training to rehabilitate and enter the workforce, but needs a cushion while adjusting to a post-divorce standard of living.
Also called lump-sum alimony, this is a form of long-term support to help cover the spouse’s legal expenses and adjustment to post-divorce life. The judge awards a lump sum, which is then paid in monthly installments over a specified period of time.
Either spouse can request alimony in divorce proceedings. The judge will then consider the following factors in determining the type and amount of an alimony award:
Each spouse’s earning capacity and financial resources, including retirement and savings accounts
Each spouse’s education and training and capacity for further education and training to enhance their earning potential
The length of the marriage
The age and physical and mental condition of each spouse
Whether one spouse needs to be the custodial parent of a child, making it difficult to obtain employment
The division of property in the marriage
Whether one spouse contributed to the other’s education, training, or increased earning capacity
Using the above factors, the judge will also determine the duration of the alimony award.
Rehabilitative Alimony — This is established according to how long the court feels the process of increasing the spouse’s earning capacity will take. It can be extended in certain cases by request, but it ends if either spouse dies.
Alimony in Futuro — This can be short- or long-term depending on the supported spouse’s needs and the paying spouse’s ability to pay. It ends at the court-ordered date, or when the paying spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries.
Transitional Alimony — Transitional alimony ends on a court-ordered date or upon the death of the paying spouse or the remarriage of the supported spouse.
Alimony in Solido — This ends when the final payment is made and does not terminate upon either spouse’s death or remarriage.
Note, in some cases, all but rehabilitative alimony can terminate if the supported spouse cohabitates with someone else.
Modifications to alimony agreements depend to a large extent on whether the two spouses agreed in writing on whether modifications should be allowed. Unless the spouses agreed not to seek modifications, the court may alter or terminate either rehabilitative or alimony in futuro if circumstances change, such as the paying spouse losing a job due to a health crisis.
If allowed in writing by both parties, transitional alimony can be modified. Alimony in solido cannot be modified unless agreed to in writing by both parties.
Though alimony is certainly a large consideration in any divorce, it is one of many factors that spouses must consider if they’re eyeing an end to their marriage. The other decisive factors — including division of property, child custody, and visitation/parenting rights, among other determinations — will weigh heavily on any award of alimony.
When it comes to divorce, you should always seek the counsel and aid of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney rather than just handing everything over to a judge.
You don’t have to struggle with these important decisions on your own. If you’re considering divorce or already in divorce proceedings in or around the Knoxville or Farragut, Tennessee areas, contact us at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed for all your needs and concerns, including requests for alimony. We can help steer you toward the most favorable outcome.